The ABA works with its members on the development of industry standards, guidelines and protocols in a range of areas relating to market conduct and performance. This self-regulatory approach has proven to be very effective, and has delivered substantial benefits to bank customers.
BBSW trading guidelines
The ASX, as the new administrator of the bank bill swap rate (BBSW), has released guidelines for banks and other financial institutions on the trading of bank bills during the rate set window.
The bank bill swap rate (BBSW) is the major interest rate benchmark for the Australian dollar and reflects short term borrowing rates of banks.
A copy of the ASX BBSW Trade and Trade Reporting Guidelines is available here.
Electronic Conveyancing – Significant commercial refinance transactions
To facilitate the completion of significant commercial refinancing transactions involving security and other documentation of a non-real estate nature, Property Exchange Australia (PEXA) in conjunction with the ABA and the Customer Owned Banking Association (COBA), authorised deposit-taking institutions and practitioners have jointly developed a standard form “Undertaking by Outgoing Mortgagee in favour of Incoming Mortgagee for Delivery of Documents”. This applies from 1 August 2017.
An Information Statement for reference is available here.
Conduct background check protocol
This protocol, released in June 2017, will be used by banks when hiring to find out better information about a job applicant’s past employment history and conduct record. This is designed to create more consistency in hiring so individuals with poor conduct records can't move from one job to the next in the banking industry undetected.
Customer Advocate guiding principles
Banks are appointing customer advocates to make it easier for customers to resolve disputes. These guiding principles are intended to help banks appoint their customer advocate and ensure the role is performed effectively.
Guiding principles – improving protections for whistleblowers
The highest set of whistleblower protections is being implemented across all banks for the benefit of the sector’s 145,000 employees. The aim is to improve existing policies to ensure bank staff feel confident they can report inappropriate behaviour without fear of adverse consequences.
In December 2016, the Australian Bankers’ Association released new principles to help banks ensure their whistleblower policies meet the highest standard. This means, among other things, the whistleblower policy is endorsed by the board, is monitored for effectiveness, and there is zero tolerance of retaliation against whistleblowers.
ABA's Code of Banking Practice
The Code of Banking Practice is the banking industry's customer charter on best practice banking standards, disclosure and principles of conduct. It is contractually binding on subscribing banks and sets out the minimum standards banks have agreed to follow when dealing with personal and small business customers.
The ePayments Code is a voluntary code which protects consumers when transferring funds electronically.
This Code covers electronic funds transfers, including ATM and EFTPOS transactions, telephone and internet banking, debit card and credit card transactions (other than those intended to be authenticated by a manual signature), and some low value stored value products such as smart cards, pre-paid telephone cards and digital cash.
The Code is administered by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission. This code was known formerly as the Electronic Funds Transfer Code of Conduct but renamed the ePayments Code following a review completed in December 2010. The original code will apply until 19 March 2013 when the ePayments Code will commence.
ABA-ATO information request protocol
Arrangements between the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) and the Australian Banker’s Association (ABA) for the issuing of third party information notices on banks under section 264 of the Income Tax Assessment Act 1936 (ITAA).
ABA’s Guiding Principles for Accessible Authentication
Accessibility issues need to be considered in the deployment of authentication technologies, to ensure that people with disabilities and older people are not disadvantaged.
Adoption of common standards by banks and other financial institutions in Australia will promote the confidence of customers using authentication technologies and improve the accessibility of retail banking and finance.
The Guiding Principles have been developed to:
- Provide guidance to financial institutions adopting stronger authentication technologies as part of their banking services;
- Ensure that all customers of financial institutions operating in Australia, including people with disabilities and older people, are able to access and manage their finances independently, securely and effectively;
- Ensure that the access needs of people with disabilities and older people are considered in the deployment of authentication technologies; and
- Ensure that financial institutions are able to provide the best possible service to all customers.
Choose a version to download:
If you have any problems in accessing these documents, please contact the Australian Bankers’ Association, freecall 1800 633 855, and we will provide you with an accessible version.
ABA's Indigenous Statement of Commitment
The retail banking sector is supporting an industry Indigenous Statement of Commitment which outlines how banks may make a difference for Indigenous people and their communities. The ABA released this Statement of Commitment on May 27 2007, to coincide with the 40th anniversary of the 1967 referendum that acknowledged Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people as Australian citizens, by including them in the national census of the Australian population. The Indigenous Statement of Commitment which outlines how retail banking industry may make a difference for Indigenous people and their communities. The ABA and its retail member banks recognise that many Indigenous Australians face significant social, economic and financial disadvantage.
ABA's Industry Standards on Accessibility of Electronic Banking
The ABA has worked with the community to produce voluntary Industry Standards which aim to improve the accessibility of electronic banking. The Industry Standards are important steps in helping overcome the digital divide and will assist individual banks develop or enhance their electronic banking services for older Australians and people with disabilities. The ABA, the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission (HREOC) and the Accessible E-Commerce Forum, worked with representatives from member banks, other financial institutions, community groups, suppliers and retailers to develop these Industry Standards
ABA's Branch Closure Protocol
The Branch Closure Protocol outlines the banking industry’s commitment to provide personal and small business customers in remote, rural and regional areas ongoing face-to-face banking services in the event of a branch closure.
This includes maintaining face-to-face banking services through an existing outlet, a franchising arrangement with the community or agency arrangement with Australia Post, as well as assisting customers adjust to changes in how they access other banking products and services.
Banks are committed to actively engage with customers and the community and formally respond to queries and concerns about branch closures.
The Protocol was originally introduced in August 2004. It was revised in October 2015 to address specific operational issues raised by banks. The Protocol will be reviewed as part of the next review of the Code of Banking Practice.
Financial Abuse Guidelines
Industry guideline – Protecting vulnerable customers from potential financial abuse
As a framework to banks, this industry guideline explains what financial abuse can look like, how it can impact customers and the bank’s relationships with their customers, and how banks staffs can respond.
Industry guideline – Responding to requests from a power of attorney or court-appointed administrator
This industry guideline explains how these different arrangements work legally across Australia, how they are used by bank customers and their substitute decision-makers, and provides a framework for how banks should respond to these arrangements.
Code of Operation: Recovery of debts from Human Services income support payments or Department of Veterans' Affairs Payments
The ABA is a co-signatory to this revised Code, released in June 2015 by the Department of Human Services and the Department of Veterans’ Affairs. It outlines the debt recovery arrangements specific to overdrawn accounts for people who receive government payments. The Code prescribes that no more than 10 per cent of an income support or Department of Veterans’ Affairs payment should be applied to the recovery of the debt. The aim of the Code is to ensure that recipients of income support payments have sufficient income to maintain adequate living standards. Other signatories to the Code are Australian Finance Conference and the Customer Owned Banking Association. For more information visit humanservices.gov.au/overdrawn.
Personal Properties Securities
Following commencement of the Personal Property Securities Register in January 2012, the opportunity has been taken by two industry associations, the Australian Bankers’ Association (ABA) and the Australian Finance Conference (AFC), to make available to the banking and finance industry and its advisors a set of industry model priority and release documents as a way of improving efficiency of operations and reducing costs. Please follow the link above to access the documents.
Promoting Understanding About Banks’ Hardship Programs
This industry guideline does not have legal force or prescribe binding obligations on individual banks. This industry guideline has been developed to provide guidance to banks on how to meet, and in some cases exceed, existing legal obligations and industry standards. The ABA encourages member banks to follow this industry guideline and incorporate the guidance into the development and implementation of their hardship programs.
This industry guideline:
- Explains how Commonwealth consumer protection laws, the Australian Government’s Hardship Principles and relevant provisions within the Code of Banking Practice apply to banks’ hardship programs;
- Provides practical guidance on what banks could do to meet their obligations under these laws, principles and codes when dealing with customers who may be experiencing financial difficulty;
- Outlines a framework for banks that balances the need for consistent, standardised access to financial hardship assistance with the need for flexibility when responding to customers’ unique personal and financial circumstances; and
- Promotes best practice across the banking industry.
Sanctions: Australian Bankers' Association (ABA) Guidelines for the Financial Services Sector
These guidelines are intended for Australian Bankers’ Association (ABA) member banks. The guidelines are not legally binding. They aim to set out good industry practice for ABA members and their staff in relation to sanctions requirements.
Organisations that are not members of the ABA may have regard to these guidelines as industry good practice, particularly where their industry body has not issued specific guidelines to them on sanctions.
These guidelines will have impact on operational areas, but it is expected that more detailed internal policies and guidance will be developed, specifically tailored to suit the needs of member banks, using these guidelines as a guide to good practice
Information on the US Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act and Australian banks
In March 2010, the U.S. enacted the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA), which will impose significant reporting requirements on "Foreign Financial Institutions" (FFIs) from 1 January 2013. This legislation is a reaction to concerns that wealthy U.S. citizens are not disclosing funds held in "offshore" tax-haven accounts. Click here for more information.